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Director of News and Programming
Award winning journalist Gary Baumgarten hosts the News Talk Online show on He asks critical questions, and invites people from all around the world to talk directly to his newsmaker guests using Paltalk's voice over IP technology. Gary came to Paltalk as director of news and programming from CNN where he was the radio bureau chief and correspondent in New York for a decade, where he covered, among other things, the 9/11 attacks in New York and Hurricane Katrina. He was previously reporter and assistant news director at CBS all news radio station WWJ in Detroit. Prior to that he was managing editor at Detroit Radio News Service and a reporter for the Jackson (MI) Citizen-Patriot, the Detroit News and a number of weekly newspapers. Paltalk is the largest multimedia interactive program on the Internet with more than 4 million unique users. News Talk Online is also syndicated by CRN Digital Talk Radio to cable systems serving an additional 12 million households.


Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 4, 2010 6:19PM

2 Detroit Schools That Have Defied The Odds

Rate: 3 Flag

Paltalk News Network

The school dropout rate in the Detroit Public School system is 75 percent. But two Detroit schools I visited today buck that statistic.

The Detroit Cristo Rey High School, a private Catholic school on the city's southwest side, draws from students across the city. They have to meet certain academic requirements to attend.

They also all have to work. One day a week, instead of attending classes, the students work. This serves several purposes. The money raised helps pay for their education. It also gives them real life experiences in the workplace.

They all wear appropriate clothing. Boys must wear white shirts and ties. Girls hems cannot be too short. The dress code is strictly enforced.

The dropout rate is insignificant as compared with the overall dropout rate in the city.

The school will never enroll more than 500 students. The class sizes are small.

The school runs on a tight budget. Cristo Rey president Michael Khoury says he wishes he got the kind of funding the public schools have received but have squandered. "It's frustraing to me to see all the money they get and the results," he says.

The atmosphere at the University Prep Science and Math Academy in Detroit's Cultural Center is different. While the classes and student population is, like at Cristo Rey, small, and while there is also a dress code, the atmosphere is more relaxed. The emphasis, says Superintendent Margaret Trimer-Hartley, is on providing an atmosphere where the children enjoy learning.

Unlike Cristo Rey, there are no academic requirements for attending. A lottery is offered throughout Detroit. Those whose children are lucky enough to attend can go.

The school buildings - this one is attached to the Detroit Science Center and the children go there often as part of their studies - are leased for $1 a year. But there is a condition. At least 96 percent of the students must graduate and go to college or the schools will be evicted.

At the sister University Prep Academy, 80 percent of the children are below the poverty line. One-hundred percent graduated.

That's 100 percent in a school district where there's a 75 percent dropout rate.

I asked Trimer-Hartley why the public schools are unable to emulate what the charter schools are doing. She gave three examples of what they have going for them that the public schools don't:

1 - Apolitical and non-meddlesome school boards.

2 - Site based management. Principals are in chaarge of their budgets and hiring and firing (they are also held accountable for their school's success).

3 - Small schools and small class sizes.

Perhaps these are goals that our failing public schools should attempt to achieve - so their students can as well.

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Gee. Private schools. Dress codes. Smaller classes. Lower dropout rates. Discipline. Do I see a pattern here?
Look, if you cherry-pick your intake to just the students whose parents are motivated enough to want to them to attend a charter school, of course you'll get great results.

Lets see what lessons we could learn from these schools if they had to admit their fair share of troubled, violent or unmotivated students that are currently dumped into the public system.

By creaming off the motivated students with parental involvem,ent, charter schools actually make the problems worse for everyone else left in the public system. Which is why Republicans like them so much. No thanks.

As a future educator and non- Republican, I must respectfully disagree with your assessment. Troubled, violent and unmotivated students are not born but created, and in the case of Detroit, they are created by a public system absolutely overrun with the cancer of political corruption, poverty, and a complete disinterest in the education of young people. Being from the area, I was absolutely aghast at news reports last year of school administrators literally thieving out of school coffers. You know a city is completely dead inside when the adults are caught stealing from their children, like a bunch of crackheads, not to put too fine a point on it.

Is it any wonder that students in this type of environment turn out the way they do? What possible reason would they have to clean up their act in the face of such upstanding mentor-ship? *insert sarcasm here* Begrudging charter schools their success and meanwhile stubbornly refusing to learn from their example while pointing the fingers at Republicans (as satisfying of a feeling as this is) does not a solution make.

Thanks for sharing, Gary. R
Stan, if there wasn't so much political correctness in our public school system, maybe those children could learn also.

Discipline is rarely allowed. They are allowed to dress like slobs. They pretty much know there are no consequences for their actions.
Rated, as an inspiring account of the direction in which elightened educators should be proceeding.
This will seem harsh but it is blunt and true. The only hope for Detroit is to desolve it. The problems are too deep seated. A courageous goverment needs to take on the problem, to demolish the rotting buildings and split the city amoung the neighboring suburbs. You can't take a look at the way it is run and come to any other conclusion.

A school system with a 75% drop out rate says it all.